Buckle up Pittsburgh Penguins fans because the Washington Capitals have signed 6-foot-9, 250-pound, unrestricted free agent veteran defenseman Zdeno Chara to a one-year, $795,000 contract on Wednesday.
As if ‘Ovie vs. Sid’ eight times in the regular season and potentially the Stanley Cup playoffs wasn’t going to be intense enough, now the Capitals have injected Chara, the man who helped the Boston Bruins shut down Sidney Crosby and the Penguins in the 2013 Eastern Conference Final, into the fierce rivalry with the Penguins.
“We are extremely pleased to have Zdeno join the Capitals organization,” Capitals General Manager Brian MacLellan said of Chara, who even in his 22nd NHL season finished a plus 23 for the Bruins last season.
“We feel his experience and leadership will strengthen our blueline and our team.”
As Boston Hockey Now has been reporting for a while now, the writing appeared to be on the wall for Chara in Boston after 14 seasons as the Boston Bruins captain. In an Instagram post thanking the Bruins fans, Chara confirmed that it was indeed the Bruins who chose to move on and commit to a youth movement on the blue line.
“Recently, The Boston Bruins have informed me that they plan to move forward with their many younger and talented players and I respect their decision,” said Chara who passed the 1500 game mark last season. “Unfortunately, my time as the proud Captain of the Bruins has come to an end.”
Chara signed with the Bruins as an unrestricted free agent on July 1, 2006, and had the ‘C’ immediately placed on his jersey. Since then, he has won a Stanley Cup, a Norris Trophy, and led the Bruins to three Stanley Cup Finals. In his most recent Cup Final in 2019, Chara played Games 5, 6, and 7 with a broken jaw but to no avail as the Bruins fell to the St. Louis Blues in Game 7 in Boston.
A veteran of 22 NHL seasons, Chara led the Bruins to their first Stanley Cup in 39 years in 2011. He won the Norris Trophy voted as the NHL’s top defenseman in 2008-09 and has been selected to play in five NHL All-Star Games. Chara has been named an NHL First Team All-Star three times and Second Team All-Star four times. In 2010-11, he won the Mark Messier Leadership Award for qualities on and off the ice.
Chara is sixth in Bruins history in games (1,023) and third in points by a defenseman (481) behind Ray Bourque (1,506) and Bobby Orr (888).
After being selected by the New York Islanders in the third round (56th overall) of the 1996 NHL Draft, Chara has amassed 656 points (205 goals, 451 assists) in 1,553 NHL games with the Bruins, Islanders and Ottawa Senators, and 70 points (18 goals, 52 assists) in 195 playoff games.
The Penguins open up their 2021 home slate against Zdeno Chara, Ovechkin, and the Capitals with a two game set beginning Jan. 17.